By DOUG DONNELLY
For The Monroe News
ADRIAN – Josh Beck calls himself an old man and figures his baseball playing days are just about over.
But the 23-year-old Whiteford graduate is not quite done yet.
Beck recently finished his four-year degree at Akron University but is playing this summer with the Adrian-based Michigan Monarchs and most likely will be playing at Adrian College for his final year of eligibility next year.
“This is my last summer,” Beck said prior to a recent Monarchs game against Lima, Ohio. “I wanted to pay as many games as I could. I am having a great time. The Monarchs are a good team, good organization. I’m just happy to be here and playing.”
Beck starred in football and basketball at Whiteford. In 2016 he was the Monroe County Region baseball player of the year, hitting .485 with 14 doubles, three home runs and 33 RBI. He started at Jackson College, hitting .309 with 17 RBI as a freshman before landing a spot with Akron, playing in the Mid-American Conference with the Zips.
He appeared in six games with three starts as a redshirt junior in 2020 before the season was cut short due to COVID-19. This past season he appeared in 13 of Akron’s 50 games.
“I didn’t put up the numbers I wanted to,” Beck said. “It wasn’t a good environment for me. We didn’t win a lot. That is not how I want to go out. It didn’t go the way I wanted it to.”
When Beck returned home this summer, he thought his baseball career might be over. Some friends encouraged him to enter the transfer portal because he knew he would not be returning to Akron. He ended up talking to Adrian College and its head coach Craig Rainey and now thinks he will play for the Bulldogs next season.
“I’ll enter grad school and likely play there,” he said. “They are a powerhouse. They have great facilities and I love coach Rainey. He is a gritty guy, loves to win, does all the little things to win ball games. I want to go out and get a ring before I’m done.”
To prepare for the 2022 season, Beck started off this summer playing with a team out of Brighton. After playing games just about every day of the week with other college players, Beck got a call from the Monarchs.
“I played a game or two, hit the ball a little and they called me one night saying they had a game in Lima, Ohio, and they needed a catcher,” Beck said. “I said, ‘what time does the bus leave?’”
He has played with the Monarchs since.
The Monarchs are part of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate league, which consists of college-age players from Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. The season ends at the end of the month. The Monarchs are currently in fifth place in the North Division standings but are fourth in the win column.
The Monarchs play home games at Siena Heights University. On Wednesday they beat the visiting Royal Oak Leprechauns 11-1 in eight innings. Beck was not in the starting lineup because he was Tuesday and expects to be for the weekend series the team is playing.
Beck, the son of Brad and Mari Beck, graduated as a business major with a minor in professional sales. His plan is to someday return to Ottawa Lake and work his family’s farm.
“That’s the plan,” he said. “I’ve already talked to my dad about it. I figure I will go out and do something for a couple of years, earn some money, then work the farm.”
For now, however, he is still hitting baseballs – and happy doing so.
“It’s not as tense,” Beck said of the summer baseball. “Everyone is not out there every day to impress their coach or get a spot somewhere. It’s just baseball. Guys sometimes play a lot better in the summer because they can just relax and go out and play baseball. It’s a different mindset than college.
“It’s good baseball, too. I’m doing it to stay in shape, to stay sharp. I play just about every day of the week. I’m loving it.”